Allow for the moment that (in the absence
a moral virtue. How
can ecological ethics transpose to ananalogous format?
Perhaps the paramount law
homeostasis.In material, our planetary ecosystem
essentially closed, and life proceedsby recycling transformations. In energy, the system
open, with balancedsolar input and output, the cycling being
aggradation and degradation. Homeostasis, it should be noted,
at once anachievement and a tendency. Systems recycle, and there
energy balance;yet the systems are not static, but dynamic,
tbe forces that yield equilibrium are in
seeking equilibrium yet veering from it to bring counterforces into play. This perpetual stir, tending to and deviating from equilibrium, drives the evolutionary process.
does this translate morally? Let us consider first a guardedtranslation. In
Steady State: Physical Law and Moral Choice," PaulSears writes: "Probably men
to what constitutes thegood life.
need not differ
necessary for the long survival
man on earth. Assuming that this
our wish, the conditions are clearenough.
living beings we must come to terms with the environment aboutus, learning to get along with the liberal budget at our disposal, promotingrather than disrupting those great cycles
nature--of water movement,energy flow, and material transformation that have made
a physical goal,
must seek to attain what I have called a steady state.
the article indicates that this
a moral "must."
assess thisargument, begin with the following:
recyclefor the life-supporting eco
replace the if-option by an antecedent moral ought,
convert the technical ought to a proximate moral ought. Thus the "must" in thecitation is initially one
physical necessity describing our circumscriptionby ecological law, and subsequently it
one of moral necessity when this law
conjoined with the life-promoting ought.
recycle for the life-supporting ecoand you ought to preservesystem recycles
antecedent ought Sears takes, fairly enough, to
common, to many
moral systems. Notice the sense in which we can break ecologicallaw. SpeUing.the conditions
stability and instability, homeostatic laws
Shepard and McKinley,